Rassie Erasmus believes that the Springboks can bounce back to win the World Cup following their 10-point loss to the All Blacks. JON CARDINELLI in Yokohama reports.
The Boks went down 23-13 to the All Blacks in the Pool B opener on Saturday. The result should see the All Blacks going on to top the group, given their remaining matches are against Canada, Namibia and Italy.
The Boks should do enough to qualify for the next round. Whether they can crack on to win three playoffs in succession against well-balanced teams like Ireland, Wales, New Zealand and possibly England is another story.
In the immediate aftermath of the defeat in Yokohama, Erasmus said that the team hasn’t lost hope yet.
‘When you’re in a World Cup group with New Zealand, the chances are good that you won’t go through to the playoffs with an undefeated record,’ the Bok coach said with a little shake of the head. ‘I felt that they deserved to win tonight.
‘We are the No 4 or 5-ranked team in the world, so we’re not really the benchmark. I believe that we can bounce back to win the World Cup, but the All Blacks are definitely the favourites to win the tournament. They’ve always been.
‘We’re creeping a bit closer, though. We’ve had some good battles with them over the past few years.’
No team has ever bounced back after a loss in the group stage to win the World Cup title. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, however, feels that the Boks are still in the hunt for the trophy.
‘History and records are great things, but they are there to be broken,’ Hansen said.
‘The Boks are no worse off now than they were before. They have to win every one of their remaining games to win the title. That should be their mindset. If they get things right they will be there in the end.’
Bok flyhalf Handre Pollard said afterwards that the players won’t allow the defeat by the All Blacks to affect their confidence.
‘We were worse off four years ago [after the historic loss to Japan in the World Cup opener in Brighton],’ Pollard said. ‘The equation now is simple: we have to crack on and win six out of six.
‘It’s painful. It’s never nice losing in a Springbok jersey. But we’ll get over it in the next 24 hours and prepare well for next week.’
Photo: Steve Haag Sports via Hollywoodbets